The MGM Grand fire occurred on November 21, 1980 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (now Bally's Las Vegas) in Paradise, Nevada, USA. The fire killed 85 people, most through smoke inhalation. The tragedy remains the worst disaster in Nevada history, and the third-worst hotel fire in modern U.S. history, after the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta that killed 119 people and the Dupont Plaza Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico fire on December 31, 1986, in which 97 perished.
The hotel was repaired and improved, including the addition of fire sprinklers and an automatic fire alarm system throughout the property, and sold to Bally's Entertainment, which changed the name to Bally's Las Vegas. Similar upgrades were also made to the nearly identical property (now the Grand Sierra Resort) in Reno, Nevada. The tower in which 61 of the 85 people who died as a result of the fire is still operating as part of the hotel today. A second tower, unaffected by the fire, opened in 1981. The present MGM Grand hotel-casino was built just to the south, near the northeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue
National Fire Protection Association
The fire was confined to the casino and restaurant areas. The hotel was equipped with a fire sprinkler system that performed properly by keeping the fire out of that section of the building. The area with the most fire prevention was in the money counting area, not in individual rooms or on the casino floor. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) studies show that in this fire the hotel occupants did not exhibit panic behavior. Instead, many took rational steps to preserve their lives. Examples of this include putting towels around doors (to block out smoke), notifying other occupants, offering refuge in their rooms, and using wet towels for their faces
Hotel and Motel Fire Safety
The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 was enacted by Congress to save lives and protect property by promoting fire and life safety in hotels, motels and other places of public accommodation. The law mandates that Federal employees on travel must stay in public accommodations that adhere to the life safety requirements in the legislation, those being:
o hard-wired, single-station smoke alarms in each guestroom in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 72; and
an automatic fire sprinkler system, with a sprinkler head in each guest room in compliance with NFPA standard 13 or 13R. Properties four stories or higher must have an automatic fire sprinkler system.
Life Safety Steps
o Never smoke in bed.
o If the fire is in your room, get out quickly. Close the door, sound the alarm and notify the front desk.
o Always use a stairwell, never an elevator. The elevator could stop at the floor of the fire.
o If the fire is not in your room, leave if it is safe to do so. Be sure to take your room key with you in case fire blocks your escape and you need to re-enter your room.
o To check the hallway for fire, touch the door with the back of your hand to test the temperature. If the door is cool, get low to the floor, brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be ready to close it quickly if there are flames on the other side. Crawl low in the smoke to the nearest exit; the freshest air is near the floor.
o If your room door is hot, do not open it. Instead, seal the door with wet towels or sheets. Turn off the fan, heater, and air conditioner. Call the fire department to give your location. Signal from your window.
Additional resources provided by the author
Howard Roitman, Esq.
8921 W. Sahara Ave.
Las Veagas, NV 89117